Mission Archéologique Française de Saqqara (MAFS)

Supported by: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Sorbonne University

Director: Audran Labrousse

Area: Saqqara-South, Old Kingdom pyramids

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The French mission started as early as 1951 with the objective to free the Old Kingdom pyramids from the huge mounds of sand and rubble still covering their bases and temples. It was then directed by Jean-Philippe Lauer, the famous excavator of the Step Pyramid, and its interest was mainly architectural. When Jean Leclant joined the team in 1965, a second objective became the study of the so-called Pyramid Texts. During the clearance and restoration of the subterranean parts of each pyramid, hundreds of new fragments of these religious texts were found and could be re-instated in their original position on the walls. This has finally allowed the specialists to study this important text corpus as a whole and within its architectural and ritual context. Over the years the expedition has managed to excavate and study the full extent of the pyramid complexes of Teti, Unas, Merenre, and Djedkare-Isesi. Since 1989, it concentrates on the complex of Pepi I, where the temple area and the interior of the tomb-chambers has already been admirably restored. The main focus is now on the extensive cemetery around the pyramid, which so far has already produced no less than eight subsidiary pyramids belonging to the queens of Pepi I and Pepi II, plus a number of tombs of other members of the royal entourage.